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Why the City of Jo’burg wants software developers to map street addresses

The City of Johannesburg‘s GeoJozi Developer Challenge calls on developers aged 30 or under to help the City improve its systems of allocating and maintaining addresses across the 1,644 km2 municipality. By Staff Writer

If you are a developer with an interest in apps, maps, data, urban development or cities then enter this competition which focuses on location technology.

It is being run for the first time this year by the City in partnership with Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and mapping software company, Esri South Africa.

Across the world, street addresses and location are used as fundamental tools for managing cities. But with rapid urbanisation, local governments face increasingly complex and fast-changing urban landscapes that need to be effectively managed and to serve their residents.

Marcelle Hattingh, Director of Corporate Geo-Informatics for the City of Johannesburg explains: “Street addresses specify points of service delivery. They are essential for electricity, water, refuse, sewage, emergency services, land ownership, parcel deliveries, safety and security, being able to vote and countless other critical services and functions. A street address can save a life!”

Prof Barry Dwolatzky, Director of JCSE at Wits University says: “As the world becomes more digitised, more real-time data about cities is becoming available. This data can help to manage cities better and make them smarter. A street address informs us of location, and that is where Geographic Information System (GIS) comes in. It’s all about a specific position or the coordinates on earth.”

Dwolatzky says that this creates exciting opportunities for creating smart cities, modern urban development and 21st century city management. The GeoJozi Challenge will be hosted in Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, the City’s newest high-tech address.

“We are calling on young Johannesburg-based software developers to work with the City to help improve the allocation, maintenance and visibility of street addresses across our City.”

The winning solution will earn its creator R150 000. Second and third places are worth R100 000 and R50 000 respectively.  The winning ideas may also be implemented by the City of Johannesburg.

“Addresses and location are essential for the efficiency of a high functioning city. The City is calling for innovative solutions that will help the citizens realise the vital importance of street addresses and optimise the power of location,” says Hattingh.

Patrick McKivergan, managing director of Esri South Africa, says: “This initiative will encourage young developers to develop their skills in location technology. As the technology partner of the GeoJozi Challenge, Esri will be providing the location platform on which the GeoJozi contestants will develop their solutions. It will consist of toolkits for the development and data on which the contestants can base their solutions for the street addresses and location issues. We are right behind the City’s efforts to create location awareness. Entrants will also receive free training and great learning opportunities.”

Last year, the United Nations estimated that 71.3% of South Africa’s population will live in urban areas by 2030, nearly 80% by 2050. “This puts the need for innovative street address and location solutions into the spotlight,” says Hattingh.

Developers need to register on www.geojozi.joburg by 31 August 2016.

 

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